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Applications for First Leap are open from Monday, September 13, 2021 to Wednesday, September 29, 2021.


First Leap guidance will be delivered by experts in business fundamentals as well as experienced creative business owners. Participating entrepreneurs will hone the skills needed to build sustainable and impactful creative businesses, culminating in an actionable business plan presentation. First Leap participants will experience below.

  • Learn from experienced creative business owners who work hard and smart to realize creative fulfillment, financial resilience, and social impact
  • Hear from experts on topics such as contract considerations, business finances, product photography, and marketing success
  • Develop actionable business plan presentations that incorporate the considerations outlined during the course, including brand assets, target audience decisions, and other building blocks

Business Planning Bootcamp for Creatives

Monday, September 27, 2021 | 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Can’t commit to a 7-week program? Check out our upcoming webinar instead. Creative entrepreneurs can join this free webinar to participate in an intensive unpacking of business planning essentials. Those already with guiding documentation can use the webinar to make sure their plan is relevant and refined. Those new to the process will learn more about the key elements that make business planning helpful in translating good ideas into next steps. Flexible and clear business planning has never been more important as creatives pivot and adapt to the evolving economic conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Short and Long Term Goals

Phase One: Build the Plan

Seven weeks of intensive sessions to create guiding documentation that establishes strong foundations
  • Learn from an experienced creative business owner and a team of business management experts
  • Outline, understand and answer the fundamental questions shaping your creative business
  • Define the operational and financial goals to move toward in Phase Two with ongoing CBA support

Phase Two: Start the Plan

Six months of steady action to access capital, space, markets, peers, workforce, and guidance for growth
  • Partner with CBA team members and creative business coaches to make meaningful progress
  • Pursue the space, capital, and workforce needs to scale, sustain, and have a social impact in your community
  • Tackle challenges and breakdown barriers holding your creative business back from success


In March 2021, First Leap worked with twelve creative businesses to develop the confidence and capacity for business growth.

Learn more about their processes and products. CHECK OUT THE COHORT

Program Facilitators

Katie Johnson

Associate Director of the Creative Business Accelerator

Before the CBA, Katie was Director of Braddock Tiles, a non-profit business that produces small batch architectural tiles with youth to teach job readiness skills. Before her role at Braddock Tiles, she worked in development for the YWCA of Western North Carolina as a Donor Stewardship Manager, where she worked closely with senior staff to help develop lasting community relationships. With her extensive experience in the arts and non-profit sector, Katie brings a unique set of skills to provide artists, designers, and craftspeople with better access to technical assistance, peer network interactions, grant capital, and opportunities to build their workforce through job creation.

Debbie Magyar

CEO of Virtual Business Design at Launch and Balance Consulting

Debbie is a business strategist assisting small businesses with strategic business planning and digital marketing solutions at any stage of the business life cycle. As an entrepreneur of 20 years, she understands the challenges of working in and on a business. Debbie is the CEO of Launch and Balance Consulting LLC, a nationally certified women owned business, by WBENC, and brings her expertise in small business advising, real estate development, finance, digital marketing, SBIR/STTR programs, and operations to support small business advancement in the region. Debbie received her BA from the University of Kentucky and her MBA from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She is a certified commercialization specialist and certified in Google Digital Marketing.

Session Dates & Topics

Session 1: The Company Overview

10.11.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Unpacking your goals for launching/growing a creative business
  • Developing a business concept around your creative output
  • Designing your unique value proposition, mission, and vision
  • Developing a business plan outline for your business concept



Session 2: Defining Your Products & Services

10.18.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Evaluating the deliverables (products, services, and pricing)
  • Understanding creative output and your target market
  • Promotion and distribution/economies of scale
  • Conducting a competitive and SWOT analysis


Session 3: Breaking Down the Market

10.25.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Evaluating and sizing your market and sales potential
  • Developing short & long-term marketing strategies
  • Auditing your online presence and brand awareness
  • Balancing distribution channels, e-commerce, and storefronts

Session 4: Understanding the Business

11.01.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Creating a sustainable action plan and sales strategy
  • Managing workflow processes and mindset
  • Defining and delegating business operations
  • Securing key partners, advisors, and technology

Session 5: Designing a Financial Forecast

11.08.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Introducing to financial statements and financial management
  • Assessing your holistic financial needs
  • Understanding business budgeting and forecasting
  • Getting tools and techniques for cash flow management

Session 6: Creating a Business Plan Summary Deck

11.15.21 | 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Techniques to deliver a business plan overview
  • Tools and templates to build content and collateral
  • Design and presentation tips for pitching successfully
  • Downloading and working with your new business plan

Session 7: Business Plan Summary Presentations

On Monday, November 22, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. First Leap participants will present to each other and to a range of business startup and growth experts in order to put a final polish on their plans.

The First Leap represents a new collaboration between two of the most effective organizations in the creative economy. The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) at Chatham University creates economic opportunities for women by providing high-quality entrepreneurial counseling, education, and training for women entrepreneurs. The Creative Business Accelerator program (CBA) at Bridgeway Capital, a nonprofit social impact investor, empowers regional artists makers, designers, and craftspeople to grow their businesses in ways that support equitable economic development. Still have questions?

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